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The Difference Between Heartburn and Heart Attack




Is it Heartburn or a Heart Attack?

Chest discomfort, pain and shortness of breath are symptoms associated with angina or even heart attack. However, these symptoms also overlap with heartburn or acid indigestion and reflux which are one of the most common discomforts experienced by all ever now and then. This is also the reason why people experiencing a heart attack sometimes confuse their symptom with a simple case of acid reflux and this mistake can land them in severe trouble. Also, vice versa, chest pain caused by acid indigestion can also be mistaken for a heart attack by some patients.

In view of the above information, patients experiencing chest discomfort due to acid reflux visit a cardiologist frequently, to make sure there is nothing serious about their condition. For the record, heartburn has nothing to do with the heart, despite the suggestive title. Heartburn is the used for acid indigestion that affects the esophagus or food pipe. Since the later is situated just next to the heart in the human body, a discomfort in the food pipe gives you discomfort in the chest. This is also why the symptoms arising from a heart related issue is often confused with an acidity issue.

The Difference Between Heartburn and Heart Attack:

Heartburn is a common condition that occurs when the acids from the stomach rise up and enter the food pipe, causing pain in the chest and sometimes difficulty in breathing. This is relatively a minor condition that can be tackled with a quick dose of antacid or prevented by maintaining healthy eating habits.

On the other hand, a heart attack can be life-threatening. Heart attack occurs when the blood supply to or from the heart is interrupted due to the narrowing or blocking of an artery. This can mean that the crucial supply of oxygenated blood is interrupted and this could be fatal if timely treatment is not provided.



Heartburn or Heart Attack

Better Safe Than Sorry:

Many people who mistake a heart attack for heartburn die untimely deaths because they fail to get appropriate medical attention on time. And there are also a few cases of people who live through minor heart attacks believing them to be ignorable instances of acid reflux. Warning signs of a heart attack previous heart attack are discovered only later after a major attack is endured and medical help is sought. Precious time is lost in such cases because the disease could have been better controlled and managed after a minor attack.

Usually patients are told that if the condition improves within a short span of time or after a few belches, one can be assured that the chest pain was due to acid reflux. However, if the chest discomforts continue, one must not waste time and immediately rush to a hospital.

Also Read: Home Remedies for Digestive Disorders
Also Read: Acid Reflux Symptoms and Causes

If a person is experiencing such symptoms in the epigastric region of the lower chest and similar type of symptoms have been prevalent since many months or years it usually points to a stomach or esophagus problem. But if these symptoms are recent or there has been a change in the character of symptoms or such symptoms also occur with any exertion like walking or climbing stair and gets better by taking rest, then most likely it is heart-related and the patient immediately needs to contact a doctor and get an ECG taken.

Another important thing to remember is that if the so-called acidity or gas symptoms persist more than 20 minutes even after taking some antacid medicine, then most likely it is an impending heart attack and the patient should immediately rush to a nearby hospital for a proper ECG. A common acidity or gas problem mostly, is due to overeating and lack of exercise. Doing regular yoga is one of best was to avoid such problems.

Even if the chest pain is not excruciating but you suspect it to be something serious, do not waste time in waiting for the symptoms to subside. Due to overlapping symptoms, it is very common for people to get confused between the two. You should therefore immediately seek medical help. It is better to reach a doctor on time and rule out a serious condition than neglect it and regret later.



About Author

Dr P.Neelam has been engaged in patient care, medical research and medical education for over 45 years. She was formerly Professor of Medicine at the Lady Hardinage Medical College and Associated with Irwin, G.B Pant and many other Hospitals.

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